Sunday, 1 February 2015

Norwich, barley and malt

I told you I’ve been busy. So busy I’d neglected to report a fascinating trip to East Anglia a couple of weeks back.

I’d been invited by some of the folks from Goose Island to tag along on a visit to a barley breeder and a maltster. I was dead excited because of the type of barley to be discussed: Chevallier.

The most exciting news (well, beer-related news) I heard last year was of the revival of Chevallier barley. At last, there was a chance  to fix something that had been troubling me for a while.

I’ve noticed that, the more I’ve got into historic brewing and recreating historic beers, I moved from just replicating the recipe as well as possible with modern ingredients. I’ve taken one more step to look at older malting and brewing techniques. And old barley varieties.

Beer’s ingredients are weird. While there are plenty of new hop varieties, older ones still soldier on. Goldings and Fuggles walk side by side with Chinook and Nelson Sauvin. But with barley, it’s a different matter. The oldest variety regularly grown, Maris Otter, celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Most varieties come and go within a decade. It’s frustrating, as it limits how far you can go into the past with full authenticity.

Until now. Because Chevallier is back. The favourite barley variety not just of Victorian Britain, but the whole world. My trip to East Anglia would tell me how and why.

Chevallier was first selected in 1820 by a Mr. Chevallier. It became incredibly popular and for a century was the most widely-grown type of malting barley. Its demise was brought about by the work of Beavan, amongst others, in breeding new crosses. With their improved yield per acre, these quickly supplanted Chevallier. But even when it was in decline, Ckevallier was loved by brewers – much like Maris Otter today – and beers brewed using it continued to win prizes.

Early Friday morning I met the Goose Island lads at Norwich station. Two people from the John Innes Centre were also there and they whisked us off to, er, the John Innes Centre. Where the plant breeding was going on.

Soon there we were. In a meeting room, two sheaves of barley decorating the table in the presence of the man responsible for the return of Chevallier barley, Chris Ridout.

It was Chris who had the idea of plucking a handful of Chevallier seeds from a seed bank and starting to build up enough to plant it commercially. There were two purposes. First to bring back Chevallier into production, but also to investigate its disease resistance.

They don’t want to grow Chevallier for the sake of it. They want to make sure they produce good malt and ultimately good beer. Which is why Crisp the maltsters have also been involved.

But the first challenge was learning how to grow Chevallier. It may sound stupid, but one strain of barley isn’t like every other. And the qualities of Chevallier are different enough that it requires different farming techniques. Ones which have been forgotten in the century since Chevallier was last grown.

First there’s Chevallier’s size. It’s 50 cm taller than modern varieties and tends to fall over. So it’s treated with a chemical that limits the growth of the stalk

Chevallier is also a nitrogen scavenger, which means it requires less fertiliser than modern varieties. Getting the amount of fertiliser right is essential if the nitrogen and protein content in the barley are to suitable for brewing.

It took a few years to get enough seed to grow a usable amount of barley. In 2012 a half acre was grown at the John Innes centre. It was malted at Crisp and used by Chris to brew a beer at his own Stumptail Brewery, Heritage IPA.

In 2013 about 500 kg of Chevallier was available for malting. In 2014 5 hectares were planted, producing 15 tonnes of grain, of which 4 tonnes was malted, the rest being used for seed. But 2015 is the year when the amounts start getting serious. Three farmers will be sowing it soon and they’re expected to harvest around 200 tonnes.

Wonderful news. But it gets even better. They’re looking at other heritage barley varieties to revive. There was one name that caught my eye. It shows just how nerdy I am. A name I recognise from brewing literature: Hanna, one of the classic central European barleys. Authentic 19th-century Pilsener anyone?

Saturday, 31 January 2015

German brewing in the 1970’s – low-alcohol beer

Here’s another test of your patience – a look at low-alcohol beer. Always a favourite among drinkers.

The first sentence is certainly true:

“Although in West Germany there is a trend to produce beers with lower original gravity, it is not expected that hop consumption will decrease. This trend has been caused by the new laws requiring a lower blood alcohol concentration but it has also been recognized that people will consume higher quantities of liquids to gain a particular blood alcohol concentration. It has been seen that in Great Britain people accept beers with original gravities as low as 8.5-9.5% Plato and after the introduction of the new traffic laws some breweries tried to put on the market the so-called 'Schankbiere' with an original gravity of 7-8% Plato. These efforts were not very successful. This comment also applies to trials to reduce the alcohol content of normally produced beers from 3.8 % (w/w) to 1.5 and 0.5 % (w/w) alcohol by various means. The following procedures are available to reduce the alcohol content of beer:

(a) Boiling of the fermented beer under atmospheric pressure.
(b) Removal of alcohol from the fermented beer by vacuum distillation at temperatures around 50°C.
(c) Use of reverse osmosis, whereby it is possible to dealcoholize the beer totally without heating.

The last-mentioned procedure has the least effect on other beer constituents, because no increased temperature is needed and the resulting product has an acceptable taste. With the two procedures first mentioned the content of hydroxymethylfurfural and other intermediates of the Mail lard reaction is increased, caused by the use of higher temperatures. None of these products is expected to have much success on the market.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 83, Issue 1, March-April 1977, page 74.

Though the first sentence is true not in the way the author intended. Pretty sure he’s talking about a trend towards low-alcohol types of beer. Whereas what I’ve observed is a lowering of gravities which offsets an increase in attenuation, leaving the ABV the same. Meaning German beers are getting drier and more highly-attenuated.

The quantities of Schankbier are tiny and falling. The vast majority of it is Berliner Weisse, a style which is under threat. There are a few low-gravity Hefeweizens around, but the amount brewed of these beers isn’t significant.

I’m trying to think if I’ve ever had an alcohol-reduced beer that tasted good. Or even like beer. Can’t recall one. Then again, I rarely drink them. In fact it’s ages since I drank one voluntarily - the last ones were while judging competitions.

Let’s see what Briggs has to say about low-alcohol beer:

"The production of alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers has a long history and patents on the processes involved go back over 100 years. Marketing and sale of these beers has varied in intensity throughout this period. Low-alcohol beers were produced in considerable volume at the time of the First and Second World Wars as a result of the shortage of raw materials and prohibition in the USA from 1919 to 1933 stimulated production. There has been renewed interest, since about 1978, because of legislation relating to the driving of motor vehicles and health considerations leading to some beliefs in the advantages of drinking less alcohol. There is also a trade in the export of non-alcoholic beer to Islamic countries where the sale of alcohol is banned. These situations lead to the development of a healthy market and most major brewers included low-alcohol and alcohol-free beers in their product portfolios. The market for these beers has recently come under pressure both from aggressive marketing from soft drink companies and from so-called `alcopops' in which alcohol is mixed with some type of fruit extract. This has led to brand losses and there are now fewer types of beer available. However the competition has resulted in marked flavour improvements in those brands which have survived. In 1992, in Europe, the market for low-alcohol beer was 4% of the total alcoholic drinks market but it has shown no growth since this time."
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 582.

Briggs lists seven methods of alcohol reduction rather than three:

Vacuum distillation
In this process (Regan, 1990), the beer to be de-alcoholized is heated to 50º C (122º F) in a plate heat exchanger and is then de-esterified under high vacuum.”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 582.

Vacuum evaporation
This process (Attenborough, 1988; Narziss et al., 1992; Regan, 1990) has developed from considering the difficulties of vacuum distillation. The temperatures used are lower than with vacuum distillation and the residence time under evaporation is less.”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 583.

Dialysis
In this method (Attenborough 1988; Niefind, 1982; Regan, 1990) the alcohol is removed by pumping beer through a membrane at a pressure of just over 2 bar (30 lb./in.2). The membrane is normally a hollow fibre with a very thin wall.”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 583.

Reverse osmosis
This process uses filtration at high pressure (30 to 60 bar) through a semipermeable membrane. The membranes are made of cellulose acetate, nylon or other polymers and allow the passage of small molecules such as water and ethanol and hold back the larger molecules. The high pressure used forces the water and alcohol against the natural osmotic pressure of the beer through the membrane.”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, pages 583 - 584.

Control of mashing
Clearly, if mashing can be performed to produce a wort of low fermentability then there is the possibility of fermenting this wort to yield a beer of low alcohol content (Muller, 1990). These methods were formerly associated with intensely `worty' flavours in the resultant beers which were cloying and not `moreish'.”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 584.

Control of fermentation
The essence of these methods is to lower ethanol production by restricting fermentation. This can be done by stopping yeast activity before fermentation is complete, by using a special strain of yeast, by temperature control, or by controlling contact time of the yeast with wort.”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 584.

Use of spent grains
These methods (Attenborough, 1988) utilize spent grains to produce worts of low fermentability. The grains can simply be extracted with water or by acid hydrolysis or can be extrusion cooked. Fermentation is normally at a gravity of 8ºP (32º Sacch). Again, these beers require long maturation times (at least 14 days) to yield acceptable flavours.
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 585.

Not sure I fancy beer that’s been through any of those processes. Using spent grain sounds particularly cheap and nasty.

Wort production next.

Friday, 30 January 2015

American brewing in the 1930’s – tax and costs

You’re in for a real number fest today. The original text has several tables to which I’ve added a few more of my own. There aren’t going to be a great number or words. Personally, I think words are greatly overrated.

We’ll start with tax.

“The Internal Revenue receipts for malt liquor taxes for the calendar year 1935 were as follows:—


Dollars. £ Sterling.
Licence fees paid to the Government by brewers, wholesale and retail dealers 4,412,701.84 900,551
Tax paid by brewers to U.S. Government 226,119,065.81 44,105,932

230,531,767.65 45,006,483
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 42, Issue 5, September-October 1936, page 416.

40-odd million quid sounds like a lot of tax. Until you put it into context. Guess how much tax British brewers paid in 1936? £55,451,926*. But they taxed the hell out of beer back then. Still do, now I come to think about it.

Now onto costs:

“Cost of Beer in America.—According to a study made by the United States Brewers' Association of costs at forty-four breweries, the following figures are typical but do not include State Revenue taxes, delivery costs, interest or discounts:—



Approximate per English barrel.

Dollars American barrel £ s. d.
Cost of production 3.932 1 2 6
Selling 1.440 8 3
Administration 0.834 5 0
Federal tax 5.0 1 8 6

11.206 £3 4 3

Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 42, Issue 5, September-October 1936, pages 416 - 417.

One handy feature of brewing records of the interwar period is the inclusion of prices and costs. Courage lists costs particularly well, even calculating the cost per barrel:

Production cost (including tax) of Courage beers in January 1936
Beer OG cost
KKK 1072.8 £6 11s 7d
XXX 1053.1 £4 9s 10d
X 1031.1 £2 8s 11d
C 1027.8 £1 19s 6d
Source:
Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/262.

The beer we need to concentrate on is XXX as that’s the closest in strength to American beers. If we just take the cost of production and tax for the American beer, it comes to a total of £2 11s. Or not much more than half the cost of XXX. The difference is even bigger as the Courage figures don’t include labour costs, just materials and tax. It’s clear that beer was far cheaper to produce in the USA.

Why? The materials costs may give us a clue

“The cost of the principal brewing materials are lower than in this country, figures from
market reports in December, 1935, being as follows, with approximate British equivalents:—


American prices. British equivalents.
Barley 60-80 c. per bushel, 48 lb. 23s.-30s. 448 lb.
Malt 1$ per bushel, 34 lb. 40s. per quarter
Hops (American) 10-20 c. per lb. 46s.-92s. cwt.
(imported) 50 c.- 1$ lb. £11-23 cwt.
Corn sugars 2.5-3.5 $ 100 lb. 11s. 6d.- 15s.6d.cwt
Grits 1.85-2.5 $ 100 lb. 8s.- 11s. 6d. cwt.
Rice 2.5$ 100 lb. 11s. 6d. cwt.
The import duty on hops is 24 cents per lb. or about £5 10s. per cwt., and that on
malt 14 cents per bushel of 34 lb. or about 6s. per quarter.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 42, Issue 5, September-October 1936, page 417.

How much cheaper were raw materials in the US? Lots.

UK materials costs in 1936
PA malt 59s-68s per quarter
UK hops 225s - 261s per cwt
flaked maize 8s per cwt
invert sugar 29s - 30s per cwt
Source:
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/621.

Malt was 50% cheaper, sugar and hops less than half the price. Only maize was oddly slightly more expensive in the US. Don’t understand that one.

“A rough average price for beer is $15 per American barrel or about 80s. per British barrel, while beer retails in 12-oz. bottles at 3 bottles for 25 cents or about 1s.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 42, Issue 5, September-October 1936, page 417.

Let’s see how that stacks up with British prices:

Wholesale price of Whitbread draught beers in 1936
Beer gravity price
Porter 1029.9 94s
Stout 1046.9 134s
Light Ale 1028.4 76s
X Ale 1035.6 94s
Pale Ale 1048.2 134s
33 1060.6 140s
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/102 and LMA/4453/D/09/125.
Whitbread wholesale price list.

The closest in gravity to American beers are Stout, Pale Ale and 33 – which 56s to 60s more.

The retail prices of bottle beers show the exact opposite:

Retail price of Whitbread bottled beers in 1936
Beer gravity price 3 X 12 oz (cents)
London Stout 1046.9 24
India Pale Ale 1037.6 21
Double Brown 1053.3 27
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/102 and LMA/4453/D/09/125.
Whitbread wholesale price list.

Bizarrely, British bottled beer was only about a third of the price of US equivalents. British beer, despite being more expensive to produce and more heavily-taxed, was only slightly more expensive than US equivalents. Why should that be? I think it’s because the retailer’s profit margin in Britain was tiny.

Next time we’ll be looking at the beers being brewed in the US.





* 1955 Brewers' Almanack.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Adnams beers in 1878 – 1879

I told you there would be lots more Adnams stuff. Barely scratched the surface so far.

I realise that I’m doing this rather illogically. Chronologically would have been a better idea. Must remember to do that from here on in.

Adnams have only two logs from the 19th century, 1878-9 and 1890. The earlier one, which we’ll be looking at today, seems to have been the personal brewing book of E.U. Adnams, the company founder. At least he’s written his name at the start of the book. See:


E.U., or Ernest Adnams was one of the two brothers who bought the Sole Bay Brewery in 1872. Meaning this is from the very early days of the business. Clearly Ernest was involved on the brewing side.

At the time, is was a pretty tiny operation. The longest brew length in this book is just 11.25 barrels. My guess is that they were brewing 2,000 – 3,000 barrels per year. Not much bigger than a large brewpub. They couldn’t have been supplying more than a dozen or so pubs.

That’s a little background. Now on with the beers themselves:

Adnams beers 1878 - 1879
Date Year Beer Style OG lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl Pitch temp pale malt black malt saccharine
2nd Jul 1878 AK Pale Ale 1044.3 11.67 2.82 65º 67.74% 32.26%
6th May 1879 PA Pale Ale 1060.9 24.29 7.56 63º 66.67% 33.33%
23rd Oct 1878 SS Stout 1066.5 13.33 4.86 62º 67.79% 9.61% 22.60%
10th Jul 1878 SS Stout 1074.8 9.14 3.72 65º 66.08% 7.49% 26.43%
5th Mar 1879 X Mild Ale 1030.5 14.67 2.00 º 65.22% 34.78%
7th May 1879 X Mild Ale 1037.4 14.67 2.58 65º 67.74% 32.26%
16th Jul 1878 IA Mild Ale 1044.3 11.67 2.67 º 67.74% 32.26%
21st Aug 1878 IA Mild Ale 1052.6 12.50 3.12 º 67.74% 32.26%
17th Jul 1878 XX Mild Ale 1048.5 8.57 2.79 65º 69.23% 30.77%
29th Feb 1879 XX Mild Ale 1054.0 16.00 3.64 65º 69.23% 30.77%
2nd Jul 1878 XXXK Stock Ale 1063.7 11.67 4.06 64º 67.74% 32.26%
21st Aug 1878 XXXK Stock Ale 1072.0 12.50 4.27 64º 67.74% 32.26%
29th Oct 1878 XXXX Mild Ale 1065.1 11.25 4.09 63º 71.43% 28.57%
23rd Apr 1879 XXXX Mild Ale 1072.0 12.67 4.44 63º 67.74% 32.26%
11th Feb 1879 Tally Ho Old Ale 1090.0 12.67 5.80 65º 75.00% 25.00%
Source:
Adnams brewing records held at the brewery.

First some general observations. Adnams were brewing to a wider range of gravities: 1030º to 1090º. Wider than you would see in London, where the odd Table Beer excepted, nothing below 1050º was brewed. At least in the large breweries whose records I’ve looked at.

The next thing to strike me is the hopping. Pretty much everything is hopped at more than 10 lbs per quarter. Not so unusual for Stock Ales or Pale Ales, but a lot for Mild Ales. The weakest beer, an X Ale of just 1030º, has 2 lbs of hops per barrel. A shit load for such a weak beer. Their Pale Ale, with 24 lbs per quarter and 7.5 lbs per barrel is hopped like a Burton IPA.

Then there’s the sugar content. It averages about a third of the grist, which is very high. A maximum of 15% is more usual. I can’t help thinking that some of the weaker Milds must have been quite thin with all that sugar.

Now compare and contrast time, as usual using Whitbread as the benchmark. Why do I mostly use Whitbread, you may ask? Because I’ve brewing records of theirs for every year from 1805 to 1973.

Whitbread beers in 1878 - 1879
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl Pitch temp
20th Sep 1879 FA Pale Ale 1055.1 1009.1 6.08 83.42% 11.09 2.96 58º
18th Oct 1879 PA Pale Ale 1060.1 1013.9 6.12 76.96% 14.41 4.16 58º
8th Aug 1879 P Porter 1056.5 1017.2 5.20 69.61% 7.86 2.01 61º
6th Mar 1879 XPS Stout 1071.1 1019.9 6.76 71.93% 14.13 5.01 56º
6th Aug 1879 SS Stout 1077.8 1024.9 7.00 67.97% 10.98 4.37 59º
3rd Dec 1879 SSS Stout 1095.3 1037.7 7.62 60.47% 8.60 4.33 59º
6th Jan 1879 X Mild 1062.3 1017.5 5.94 72.00% 6.08 1.69 61º
18th Mar 1879 XL Mild 1070.4 1015.8 7.22 77.56% 6.00 1.80 61º
17th Nov 1879 XX xpt Mild 1075.3 1023.0 6.93 69.49% 26.65 6.03 58º
4th Dec 1879 KK Stock Ale 1078.4 1027.7 6.71 64.66% 21.84 5.10 58º
28th Jan 1878 KKK Stock Ale 1085.6 1031.3 7.18 63.43% 15.04 6.11 57º
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/043, LMA/4453/D/01/044, LMA/4453/D/01/045, LMA/4453/D/09/073 and LMA/4453/D/09/074.

Whitbread grists in 1878 - 1879
Date Year Beer Style OG pale malt brown malt black malt sugar
20th Sep 1879 FA Pale Ale 1055.1 76.92% 23.08%
18th Oct 1879 PA Pale Ale 1060.1 75.58% 24.42%
8th Aug 1879 P Porter 1056.5 83.41% 10.62% 5.97%
6th Mar 1879 XPS Stout 1071.1 63.51% 17.40% 4.87% 14.22%
6th Aug 1879 SS Stout 1077.8 69.75% 18.83% 3.77% 7.65%
3rd Dec 1879 SSS Stout 1095.3 68.94% 18.61% 3.72% 8.72%
6th Jan 1879 X Mild 1062.3 99.24% 0.76%
18th Mar 1879 XL Mild 1070.4 100.00%
17th Nov 1879 XX xpt Mild 1075.3 75.05% 24.95%
4th Dec 1879 KK Stock Ale 1078.4 73.73% 26.27%
28th Jan 1878 KKK Stock Ale 1085.6 86.50% 13.50%
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/043, LMA/4453/D/01/044, LMA/4453/D/01/045, LMA/4453/D/09/073 and LMA/4453/D/09/074.

Let’s work our way through, starting with the Pale Ales. The two PAs are very similar in terms of gravity. But Adnams’ version has almost double the hops of Whitbread’s. Interestingly, Adnams’ running Pale Ale, AK, is hopped almost as heavily as Whitbread’s Family Ale (FA), despite being a good bit weaker. You’d expect a Pale Ale to have a fair amount of sugar in the grist to help keep the colour pale. Both have quite a lot, but Adnams’, at a third of the grist, is very high.

Note that even this early there was no Porter in Adnams’ lineup, just one Stout. Though that does closely resemble Whitbread’s SS in terms of gravity and hopping. The big difference is in the grist. Adnams got all their colour from black malt and there’s no brown malt in the grist. This what you tend to see, provincial brewers dropping brown malt and simplifying their Stout grists to just pale and brown malt. While London brewers remained faithful to brown malt until the bitter end. Whitbread still included it in their grists in 1973.

Adnams brewed a much larger variety of Mild Ales than Whitbread, especially in terms of gravity. I’m not so sure Whitbread XX Xpt is really a Mild Ale. The hopping looks way too high. Which leaves just X and XL, the L presumably standing for “London”. Adnams X, IA (I think it stands for Intermediate Ale) and XX are all considerably weaker than Whitbread X Ale. Even XXXX is only a little bit stronger and about the same as Whitbread XL.

The hopping shows a huge difference. Adnams’ Milds are hopped at about double the rate of Whitbread’s per quarter. This is reflected in the hops per barrel, which are higher than Whitbread’s despite some of the beers being considerably weaker.

Note that Whitbread’s Milds, along with Porter, are their only beers to contain no sugar. You may find that odd, these being their cheapest beers. But you have to remember that sugar wasn’t necessarily a cheap alternative to malt and that its use was often for flavouring or colouring purposes.

Finally the strong Ales. Tally Ho looks very similar to KKK, the strongest Ale in Whitbread’s portfolio. Though it does contain about double the proportion of sugar. For once it’s the Whitbread beer that’s more heavily hopped, even if it is by a fairly minimal amount.

That was tiring. Best I don’t think about how much more of this I’m going to put us through.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Unexpurgated in Hoofddorp

I've been so busy I almost forgot I'd a speaking engagement this weekend. And a special one, too.

Because it's the full Monty. The first time I've given the long version of Brewing up the Past. The wimps at the NHC insisted on no more than 45 minutes. I had to chop out lots of the best stuff.

But not on Friday. The handcuffs have been unlocked and I'll be waving my arms around for a full 90 minutes of unexpurgated historic brewing fun. Courtesy of homebrewing club 't Wort Wat, who were kind enough to invite me and not set a time limit. They'll live to regret that.

Come along. It may well be a once in a lifetime experience.

These are the details:

30th of January 2015, 20:00.
Wijkcentrum De Boerderij
Lutulistraat 139,
2131 TG Hoofddorp.







Copies of my book will be available:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.



10% off my Lulu print books

for something called Fun at Work Day. Every day is fun at my work.

Just type in this code to get a 10% discount until tomorrow (29th January):

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why not complete your Mega Book Series? Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! could all be yours.


Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Meeting the ambassador

2015 has already been busy beer-wise. So busy, I haven’t been reporting hardly any of it properly. I’ve still not got around to telling you about my time in East Anglia. Barley, malt and brewing records in 3 days.

I hope I’ll get around to that, but while it’s still fresh in my mind I’m going to relate what happened this week. On Monday, to be precise. When I was invited to an American craft beer tasting at the US ambassador’s residence in Den Haag. Even though it meant taking a half day off work, it wasn’t an opportunity I was going to pass up.

The American ambassador’s gaff is a rather elegant villa close to the Vredes Paleis in one of the nicer parts of the city. The street seems to consist solely of embassies or their residences. Funnily enough, not a bit of Den Haag I’d been to before.

Easy enough to get to, mind. Just jump on a 17 tram at Centraal Station and it takes you right there. Or close enough. I was early. Very early. With an hour to give a good kicking to, there was only one thing I needed. A pub.

In the 19th-century bits of Amsterdam you’re never far from a pub. But that’s Amsterdam. I’d taken the precaution of checking on a map for nearby pubs. There didn’t seem to be a great deal. So I keep my eyes out for suitable candidates as the tram rumbled closer to where I needed to make my exit. Zilch.

Things weren’t looking good. So I set off on a ramble. I came across a couple of boozers. Ones I wouldn’t have gone into. Even if they had been open, which they weren’t. Just when I thought I’d be wandering the streets for an hour, I spotted an Eetcafé. And look, there’s a Duvel sign. I was saved.


I plonked myself at the bar and had a look at the taps. No need to resort to Duvel: Kompaan Bok was on draught. Not had a beer from them before. And they’re local to Den Haag. I spent a pleasant 40 minutes of so reading the paper and sipping my beer. Far better than walking the streets.

I got to the ambassador’s residence bang on time, at 3 PM. Things kicked off at 3:15 with an introduction from the ambassador followed by short presentations by the Brewers Association and Bier&co, the two sponsors of the event.

Thankfully, beer was served while the talking was going on: first a session IPA, then Anchor Liberty Ale. They tided me over until the main event, six beers paired with what the Dutch call “hapjes”: bite-sized bits of food.


I’d tell you what all the beers were. Except I can’t remember them all. Couldn’t be arsed to take notes. These are the ones I can:

Alaskan Smoked Porter
Old Rasputin
Shipyard Export
Anderson Valley Amber Ale
Rogue Chocolate Stout

One of the eaty bits quite impressed me. See if you can guess what it is:


Hard to see in my crappy photo. Fish, chips and mushy peas. How cool is that?

The beer servings were as bite-sized as the nibbles. But with encouragement the servers would bump that up to  a gulp or two. And towards the end I encamped next to the Old Rasputin and was merrily pouring myself full glasses. Very nice it was, too. Full of that alcohol thing I like so much.

Beer-flavour stuff as well, obviously.

There were a fair few people I know present. I must say that Peter van der Arend’s bomber jacket and jeans combination wasn’t really in the spirit off business casual, the dress code. I’m surprised they let him in. Especially as he wasn’t on the guest list.


I’m not totally sure why I was invited, but I’m not complaining. Some free beer and nosh, plus a chance to peek inside the world of diplomacy. I’d do it again, happily. I didn’t get to talk to the ambassador, just stand within a few feet. That’s close enough for me.




Eetcafé de Klap
Koningin Emmakade 118-A
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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Brewing in 1960’s Canada – fermentation


I’ve been asking myself one question as I plod through “Brewing in Canada”. Will I make it all the way through or get distracted by some new shiny thing? My enthusiasm and attention are still intact, so perhaps I will.

We’ve got as far as fermentation in the brewing process:

“Fermentation: The wort is now moved to the fermenting vessels, and yeast, the jealously guarded central mystery of the ancient brewer's art, is added on the way. It is the yeast, these living, single-cell plants, which takes the sugar in the wort and breaks it down to carbon dioxide and alcohol.

There are many kinds of yeast, but that used in making beer is the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. The brewer uses two types of this yeast, and depending on which is chosen, he produces ale or lager. One yeast type which rises to the top of the liquid at the completion of fermentation is used in brewing ale and stout. The other, which drops to the bottom of the brewing vessel, is used in brewing lager.”
"Brewing in Canada", Brewers Association of Canada, 1965, page 32.

I don’t there were any surprises for us there. Pretty basic stuff, really. Were they really always top-fermenting beers labelled as Ale? It wouldn’t surprise me if they were bottom-fermented at breweries whose main focus was Lager.

This tells us a couple of things:

“In all modern breweries, elaborate precautions are taken to ensure that the yeast remains pure and unchanged. Through the use of pure yeast culture plants a particular beer flavor can be maintained year after year.

During the fermentation, which usually lasts seven days, the yeast may multiply tenfold, and in the open tank fermenters used for brewing ale a creamy, frothy head may be seen on top of the brew. When the fermentation is over the yeast is removed — by skimming off when it is a top fermentation (ale) or by pumping off the beer when it is a bottom fermentation (lager). Now, for the first time, the liquid is called beer.”
"Brewing in Canada", Brewers Association of Canada, 1965, pages 32 - 33.

Namely that brewers used pure yeast cultures. Something that even today isn’t always the case in Britain. Adnams, as I found out last week when I was at the brewery, pitch two strains, both of which are needed to get the right flavour profile and the right degree of attenuation.

Seven days doesn’t sound right for either top- or bottom-fermentation. It’s too long for an Ale and too short for a Lager. If they were fermenting it at the right temperature. A week implies it was being fermented quite warm.

Finally something about the Canadian tax system:

“It is at the end of fermentation that the Canadian government makes its "excise dip" to determine the number of gallons on which taxes must be paid. The beer still has some weeks to go before it reaches the market, but the taxes must be paid immediately.”
"Brewing in Canada", Brewers Association of Canada, 1965, page 33.

This looks like the US system – a flat rate based solely on quantity, not on strength.

The system is still in use, but with a sliding scale for the first 75,000 hl.:

Excise Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. E-14)

Duties
•    170. (1) There shall be imposed, levied and collected on every hectolitre of beer or malt liquor the duties of excise set out in Part II of the schedule, which duties shall be paid to the collector as provided in this Act.
•    Marginal note:Wastage allowance
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where beer or malt liquor is produced by a person licensed under section 168 to carry on the trade or business of a brewer, an allowance prescribed by the regulations shall be made for loss in production based on the duty assessed on the beer or malt liquor produced, but the allowance shall not exceed five per cent thereof.
Marginal note:Reduced rates — production
•    170.1 (1) With respect to the first 75,000 hectolitres of beer and malt liquor brewed in Canada per year by a licensed brewer and any person related or associated with the brewer, there shall be imposed, levied and collected on each of those hectolitres the duties of excise set out in Part II.1 of the schedule, which duties shall be paid to the collector as provided in this Act, and section 170 does not apply to those hectolitres.
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-14/page-50.html#h-34

These are the duty rates which currently apply:

II.1 CANADIAN BEER
•    1. On the first 2,000 hectolitres of beer and malt liquor brewed in Canada,
o    (a) if it contains more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $3.122 per hectolitre;
o    (b) if it contains more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume but not more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $1.561 per hectolitre; and
o    (c) if it contains not more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $0.2591 per hectolitre.
•    2. On the next 3,000 hectolitres of beer and malt liquor brewed in Canada,
o    (a) if it contains more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $6.244 per hectolitre;
o    (b) if it contains more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume but not more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $3.122 per hectolitre; and
o    (c) if it contains not more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $0.5182 per hectolitre.
•    3. On the next 10,000 hectolitres of beer and malt liquor brewed in Canada,
o    (a) if it contains more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $12.488 per hectolitre;
o    (b) if it contains more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume but not more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $6.244 per hectolitre; and
o    (c) if it contains not more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $1.0364 per hectolitre.
•    4. On the next 35,000 hectolitres of beer and malt liquor brewed in Canada,
o    (a) if it contains more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $21.854 per hectolitre;
o    (b) if it contains more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume but not more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $10.927 per hectolitre; and
o    (c) if it contains not more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $1.8137 per hectolitre.
•    5. On the next 25,000 hectolitres of beer and malt liquor brewed in Canada,
o    (a) if it contains more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $26.537 per hectolitre;
o    (b) if it contains more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume but not more than 2.5% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $13.269 per hectolitre; and
o    (c) if it contains not more than 1.2% absolute ethyl alcohol by volume, $2.2024 per hectolitre.
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-14/page-72.html#h-58

This is a big change from the system in place at the start of the 20th century, when tax was levied on malt, not beer.

Next time we’ll be in the cellar.